Why the Hell am I so Obsessed With Greece?

Everyone has their “place.” You know what I mean, your spot in the world where everything feels right and life is all gumdrops and rainbows. For Matt Kepnes, it’s Bangkok. For Robin Lacey, it’s Italy. For me, it’s Newfoundland.

But since I started studying Classics as my minor back in my first year of university (entirely on a whim because I had absolutely no clue what to study), I’ve been obsessed with Greece. Ancient Greece, mostly. The art, the history, the literature, the culture. No matter how much I learn, I’m constantly blown away by the fact that the basic human elements stay the same, despite all our technology. So much of what we do is influenced by them.

Meteora

WANT. (photo by Ank@)

Then I discovered that my family has an extremely rare gene in Newfoundland that goes back to Greece/the Mediterranean. Maybe this explains why my little pilgrimage to Ireland went awry…WRONG PLACE.

(And okay, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants might have had a little something to do with it.)

Mike Sowden understands my obsession. He’s been trying to master the language for ages, and is doing considerably better than I am. So far I know how to say “good morning!” (kalimera!) and my name is Candice (“me ‘lene Candice”). Also, “hello” (“ya sas!”) and “yes” (“ne”). Don’t get me started on the alphabet. I figure those combination of words might come in handy sometime.

I want to drink wine in the Plaka of Athens, visit the Acropolis at night, and dance with cute Greek men until the early morning. I want to take a trip to Meteora, climb Mount Olympus (hah!), and explore every inch of the Peloponnese. I want to book a sailboat and sail to every single freaking Greek island, from Crete to Mykonos to Hydra. I have a Greece guidebook that has been dog-eared, highlighted, noted, and beaten around like a hooker. I have created a list of places to visit long enough to wrap around the globe. The sheer size of the country and everything I want to do is overwhelming; the thought of it sends me into convulsions.

Greek books

Not kidding about the obsession. The rest are at my parents' house.

The problem is it’s the kind of place I need to live. I’ve put off travel plans there forever because I can’t simply stay there for a few weeks; it has to be much longer. Also, I’m broke as hell, and living ain’t cheap. But you know what I mean. The other problem is that Greece does not favour non-EU citizens…it’s damned hard to get a work visa, especially when the country is on the downswing. If I make enough cash freelancing, I can live there on a 3-month tourist visa and move back and forth each time it expires.

I’ve also applied for a year-long Fellowship grant at an American college in Athens. It’s the most perfect program I’ve ever applied to, and my fingers have been crossed for two months. They’ve begun to cramp. In the meantime, I’m launching Social Media Atlantic Canada, a self-run social media management biz for travel and tourism in Atlantic Canada. Can I infuse two of my greatest loves, Greece & Atlantic Canada? Heck yes. Bring it on, world.

Although it’s more likely I’ll show up in Athens, find I hate the place, and leave crying into my guidebook. But we’ll see.

What’s your place?

  • February 25 2011

    I thought that whole “feeding people to lions thing” was only in Ancient Rome! Guess I was wrong. (I’m extremely fascinated by Greece, too, with their mythology and whatnot. I’ve already planned my honeymoon there and everything, no joke!)

    My place would be London, UK. I could walk around the entire city alone on my first day there without getting lost; it was kinda weird. Felt like I lived there in a past life! lol. Too bad it’s so darn pricey.

    • February 25 2011

      No, I totally fudged that, hahaha. Studied ancient Rome too and sometimes details get hazy. Changed it the second after I published the post, but you got me too quick. My bad!

      I’ve heard of a lot of people having the same kinda experience, actually…like they already knew the place. Who knows, maybe you did live there before. ;)

  • February 25 2011

    haven’t been to Greece yet either. Let’s go! How about 2 weeks from now?

  • February 25 2011

    Athens has its charms, but they won’t be found in a guidebook since a billion other people have followed the advice before you, making it overrun and run down. I’m a huge fan of independent travel, and it’s worked fine for me for 15 years.

    If you earn enough money without working in Greece and funds are coming from outside the country, you can get a residence permit. My article is written from translated documentation and people’s real-life experience, so I know it works. You can see the testimonials in comments.

    http://livingingreece.gr/2007/10/11/how-to-get-a-visa-and-residence-permit-for-greece-based-independent-means/

    If for some reason the fellowship falls through, you might consider it a plan B if you qualify.

    All best, K

    • February 25 2011

      Oh, if I make it to Greece, I intend to do it all…independently and touristy. ;) Thanks so much for the info, will spend some time on your site for sure!

  • February 25 2011

    This may be awful to admit but after I saw the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants I really wanted to go to Greece.

    • February 28 2011

      Pretty sure it was a huge deciding factor for me…

  • February 25 2011

    Who says everyone has a place? Maybe some of us were born nomads and need to roam the world!?

    Greece is beautiful, and it sounds like you need to go and spend some time there whether or not you get into the grant. Good luck in any case though!

    • February 28 2011

      Hehe, you are right, of course. ;) Thanks!

  • February 25 2011

    I’ve got another book for the stack: Traveling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor.

    Fingers crossed!

    My place is Charleston, South Carolina, but Croatia did it for me as well. And now, Australia.

    • February 28 2011

      Dammit! I love Sue Monk Kidd. Thanks for the rec!

  • February 25 2011

    The place for me that’s all gumdrops and roses for me is New York City. I’ve gone twice and I’d go back again in a heartbeat. But the place I’ve always wanted to go to, since I was little, is Morocco. As soon as someone mentions Morocco or I see a picture of the country I get super excited. I don’t know why, I’m just really intrigued by the country.

    There’s no doubt that you can combine your two travel loves. I’ll cross my fingers that you get that fellowship.

    • February 28 2011

      There’s always a place like that, isn’t there?! I feel the same way when someone talks about Greece. Sigh.

  • February 25 2011

    I really, really hope you get to stay in Greece long term, Candice. As much as you want it, you can make it happen somehow. And congrats on starting the social media business! Now, that should really succeed, because you are at the helm :)

    • February 28 2011

      Thanks for having so much faith, Sabina! I appreciate it.

  • February 25 2011

    The real question is why not? Greece is awesome! And I’ll cross my fingers for you too :)

    • February 28 2011

      Why not indeed! Thanks Abbie.

  • February 25 2011

    Good luck with the grant!!!!

  • February 26 2011

    France France France! I’m loving Australia, but I totally miss France–if I could figure out a way to get a visa and live there, I totally would! I’m also dying to visit Greece and Croatia, so I can totally understand your obsession–best of luck with the grant!

    • February 28 2011

      Hehe, already knew about your France obsession! Seems like the perfect spot for you, actually. I wish French and I got along better.

  • February 26 2011

    my gumdrops and rainbows place is PEI, but I think you already knew that :)
    i don’t think i have a place for me like greece is for you. . . but i’m not a travel nut ;D i love old buildings, though. especially churchs and castles. and museums. history fascinates me. so really there’s a lot of world out there i’d love to visit… i have a few books on France/Paris.. but that’s because I was there, and I needed to be able to look at it all again and again and again :)

    my current travel goal is more canada, though. always looking for that next trip to PEI… and hoping to go to calgary in 2012.. PENGUINS!

    also, fingers so crossed for your greek fellowship! like woah! and super pumped things are moving along for you and your business… I always had faith you’d make it happen :)

    • February 28 2011

      That’s why I’m so obsessed with Greece, the history…aghhhh. And maybe why I love St. John’s so much too.

      Thanks for the good luck!

  • February 26 2011

    I wish I had a *place*! I’ve yet to find it…so good thing I’ve still got my traveling pants on… =)

    Greece is high on my must-do list. And I currently have an obsession with wanting to go to Russia…although hubby doesn’t quite agree on that one.

    • February 28 2011

      Maybe we’re not all supposed to have a place, know what I mean? Maybe a true nomad’s place is on the road. ;) Russia! Maybe someday, but first, somewhere warm…hahaha.

  • February 26 2011

    The word for yes is ne? Love it already. Good luck with the fellow ship grant and business venture!

    • February 28 2011

      I know, right?! Such a confusion of words. Love it.

  • February 26 2011
    Kimsky

    I’m so glad I found your blog… I am also obsessed with Greece! I went backpacking through western Europe on my gap year about 2 years ago and island hopping in Greece was my absolute favorite (the clouds and rain of springtime London provided some contrast, so that helped)! I have to warn you though, Athens is beautifully historic, but overall kind of… dirty. I would still absolutely go work there if I were you, but it’s not what it used to be. The islands? AMAZING. Everything you’ve ever pictured them to be. Santorini (duh), Mykonos and Ios were my faves and Corfu has a special place in my heart due in large part to the Pink Palace (planned to stay 3 days, stayed 10 instead and partied my face off every night)! I’m glad you’ve done your research, I’m taking a class on Greek ancient culture in University now and I feel like I missed some key areas. I can’t wait to go back to the Mediterranean.

    My next obsession is South East Asia! I sense another gap year/ international internship in my future =) Glad to see a fellow Canadian girl getting out there, good luck with your grant!

    • February 28 2011

      Thanks, Kimsky! I’m afraid to even go to Greece for short-term because I don’t wanna be consumed with grief when I return, hahaha. I have enough trouble dealing with post-travel blues as it is. The islands were my original destination, but now I need to do it all. :)

  • February 26 2011

    I don’t think I’ve found my place just yet. Although interestingly enough this months Travel Chanel Getaway Sweepstakes location is Greece, and I’m positive victory will be mine (although the only thing I’ve ever won was a tiny stuffed football – approximate retail value – $0.75). Hmm… maybe next month…
    :)

  • February 26 2011

    Greece is on the top of Shaun’s list of places to see since he was obsessed over mythology for forever. I wonder how he will do there since he has a vendetta against olives…

    • February 28 2011

      Hahaha, he’ll learn to love them, I think it’s an acquired taste…

  • February 27 2011

    New Zealand and Italy seem to tug at my heart but I’m not sure I have a place. Best of luck on the Fellowship and the Social Media. If anyone can do it, you can.

    • February 28 2011

      Thanks for the support, Linlah! :) I must return to Ireland. Must must.

  • February 27 2011

    Oh wow, this post made me want to go to Greece even more than I already did. It is my dream place too. I know you’ll make it there!

  • February 27 2011

    Because I love Greece and you too!
    http://www.recommendeddailydose.com/?p=7770

  • February 27 2011

    My happy place is Mexico. I’ve been toying with the idea of staying there for an extended period of time and people think I’m crazy because all you hear about Mexico in the States is the violence which mainly happens in border cities.

    I don’t know much about Athens, but I’ve heard really great things about the islands. One of my coworker’s roommates actually co-owns a bookstore/small publishing company on one of the islands. If you do end up in Greece, I can dig up the info for you if you want it!

    • February 28 2011

      I LOVE Mexico! Although I admit I’ve only been to the touristy places. I’d go back again and again though, given the option. I would love to hear more about the bookstore, I’m a sucker for those. :)

  • February 28 2011

    So far my place is Sydney, I love everything about it and I can’t wait to go back and live there!!

    As for a place that I’m dying to see and haven’t been to yet that would be Croatia! Guidebook all set, I cannot wait to get there and the worst thing is that I am so close right now and too broke to get over! I’ll find a way.

    • February 28 2011

      I’d LOVE to go there as well, kills me every time I see pictures. Ugh, must find a way!

  • March 01 2011

    Seriously, you make me laugh almost every time I read your blog…!

  • March 01 2011

    Good luck with the fellowship, and with the new business! Social media for Atlantic Canada is the perfect fit for you, and if it helps you realize your dream of living in Greece, so much the better.

    • March 03 2011

      Thank you, Gray! I hope so too. :)

  • March 01 2011

    I loved Greece. *Loved* it. Not the least because it wasn’t what I was expecting, often being modern and chaotic rather than philosophic and littered with temples, etc.

    I reckon you’ll love it too. For the same reason – the thrill of unlearning what you know about the place, and then suddenly making connections between what you’ve read and the reality of it…

    And you have to go un-nighting. (I’ve mentioned before. Edit this out if I’m overly repeating). Un-nighting is a Greek semi-macho tradition where you stay up all night drinking coffee then beer then coffee and so on, moving from outdoor restaurant to outdoor restaurant until the dawn comes up and you’re deliciously fuzzy with caffeine and alcohol and lack of sleep – and then you go to work in a fog of self-hatred.

    Has to be done at least once.

    And our heritage debt to Greece is fascinatingly complicated. I can recommend Tom Holland’s “Persian Fire” (http://www.amazon.com/Persian-Fire-First-Empire-Battle/dp/0316726648) for a really strong argument for including Persia in our list of primary Western cultural influences, hand in hand with Greece.

    And if you haven’t read Sofka Zinovieff’s “Eurydice Street: A Place In Athens” (http://www.amazon.com/Eurydice-Street-Athens-Sofka-Zinovieff/dp/1862077509/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1299020709&sr=1-1) we need to stop having this conversation until you have done so. You won’t get a better flavour for modern Greece than this book, I reckon (and it’s just gorgeous, too).

    • March 03 2011

      I’ve added both those books to my list and I trust your opinion entirely. ;) HOPEFULLY I’ll see you there, and un-nighting sounds pretty much right up my alley. Dang. And you’re right, it’s easy to have too many expectations!

  • March 01 2011

    My place is Iceland. The first time I saw a photo of an Icelandic horse with this beautiful scenery of mossy-fields and snowy mountains behind him, I became obsessed with going. When the plane started to land, at 6am under gray skies, I saw the little blinking lights of the airport and it just felt…like coming home.

    From my first moments off the plane, sitting in the steaming Blue Lagoon as snow fell in my hair, I just felt comfortable, relaxed, and settled. Everywhere I went in the country, I felt that same sense of belonging, or being in the exact right place at the exact right time. When I’m there, I’m just happy. When I’m not there, I feel a yearning (I hate that word, but it fits), a pull to be there.

    There are so many other places in the world that I can’t wait to explore, but Iceland is “my place,” the place I will always return to (third trip this summer!) and that I can’t help but obsess about when I’m not there.

    • March 03 2011

      Whenever I think of Iceland, I think you! I hope my experience is similar. Do you think you’d ever move there for awhile?

  • March 01 2011

    I’ve never been to Greece, although Athens is not particularly appealing to me. I haven’t heard great things about it. The Greek islands, though, that’s another thing. We were supposed to go to Santorini last summer, but we chose the South of France instead. And it was the good choice because it turns out there were strikes at Pireus and ferries couldn’t leave the port. Anyway…
    I would very much like to go to Santorini. And that’s pretty much it as far as Greece is concerned.
    I’m more drawn to Tuscany and Provence.

    • March 03 2011

      I hear mixed opinions about Athens…a lot of people say it’s really dirty, others say it’s amazing. Honestly I think I’d be happy pretty much everywhere! Whatever the case, once I’m done with the mainland I intend to spend a great deal of time in the islands…

  • March 11 2011

    Greece is amazing! I spent 2 weeks there last year eating and drinking myself into oblivion on the islands, and then in Athens in the Plaka district – it’s really cheap now too because of the Euro, which gave me a lot more bargaining power when you’re trying to get the best dinner deal on a street of restaurants!

    I hope you get a chance to visit soon – when you go make sure you drink lots of ‘Smirnoff North’ (Blueberry flavoured Vodka) – it’s delicious and so cheap!

    • March 13 2011

      Oooh, blueberry vodka! I’m in!

  • March 11 2011
    vagelis

    hello everyone!
    Candice really thank u for your article “15 Things I Learned Since Being Laid Off”
    im currently working in shipping industry full time locked in an office thinking my travel
    in Rome 2 years ago and dreaming about
    long travels such as around EU or US or Africa etc..
    As a Greek let me tell u that Athens is only worthy for a few days (and nights) and yes some places
    are really dirty here.
    Greek islands are the place to be and im propose Crete..
    Anyway thank u again u r doing great job in matador network enjoy ur trips
    and notice that u r more than welcome for any assistance about traveling in Greece
    Best Regards,
    Vagelis

    • March 13 2011

      Thanks, Vagelis! Such kind words. I’ve heard mixed reviews about Athens…I think if I get the fellowship I’d be in the suburbs. I’d love to try one of the other cities as well.

  • August 21 2011
    Amana

    Greece is magical in maaaany ways; but it’s the people who really changed me when I visited. There is also a very exciting and passionate political movement (indignados) in the syntagma square. It’s funny to think how democracy is suffering in the very place of its birth (for the western world).

    The food is so amazing (and healthy for the most part!).

    The islands are heaven on Earth. The more you visi,t the better, but make sure you stay enough time to meet locals and figure the essence of the place out.

    Life is slow and enjoyable… personally, it’s a shame I left at all.

  • July 14 2012
    Carly Danielle

    Finally! So, I’m not the only one with a random Greek obsession. Well, your’s isn’t 100% random with the whole slight-Greek-heritage thing, but close enough! I have dreamed of Greece for most of my memorable life and have no explanation whatsoever.

  • January 05 2014
    Achilles

    Pages like these are goldmines for me! My average bedtime story wasn’t ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarves’ but about The 12 Labours of Hercules and the Trojan War. Many years down the line I have come to be completely obsessed with the ancients. Sadly, I’ll never be able to speak to any of them but in all honesty, if I had a TARDIS, I’d use it to go back to the times of Achilles and throw away the key! I’m also planning to do a classics degree and I would love to do it in Greece so I can visit the places I study!

    I truly hope you find everything you desire in Greece :-)

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